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Maggie and Skipper and Brick: A Prequel to Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

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Maggie and Skipper and Brick: A Prequel to Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

A play in two acts for three (or four) men and one woman

CHARACTERS

Brick Pollitt…early twenties
Maggie Pollitt…early twenties, Brick’s wife
Skipper…early twenties, Brick’s best friend
Bartender…young
Miles Farmer…owner of a pro football team, millionaire oil entrepreneur

(NOTE: the Bartender and Miles can be played by the same actor)

Time: 1951-52

Place: Chicago, Dallas

Act One: The Blackstone Hotel, Chicago; the offices of a pro football team, Dallas, Texas; the home of Brick and Maggie, Dallas, Texas.

Act Two: The home of Brick and Maggie, Dallas, Texas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maggie and Skipper and Brick

Act One

Scene One

Scene: The bar of the Blackstone Hotel in Chicago, 1951. This should only be the
representation of the bar: a table and chairs or part of a counter and stools. Skipper has been here a while, though his drunkenness has a kind of boyish innocence and honesty rather than anything brutish. His suit is a little disheveled, but he’s still a handsome man. He actually started drinking in the morning but an intervening football game and humiliation had sobered him, though now he catches up in a desultory, depressed, and dissolute fashion. There is a bartender still working this empty bar on this Thanksgiving evening. In the following, his Chicago accent and brusqueness contrasts with Skipper’s more genteel Southern ways, though the bartender has softened as he’s served the young man over the past hour or so. He now moves to Skipper, who stares, motionless.

Bartender
Another?

Skipper
Hmm? Oh. Yes. Please.

Bartender
I’m out of mint.

Skipper
Just the whiskey then.

Bartender
I hope you’ll forgive me for staring, but your face looks familiar.

Skipper
I doubt that.

Bartender
What is it you do? For a living, I mean.

Skipper
I, Sir, am a failure.

Bartender
Join the club.

1
2

Skipper
How’s that?

Bartender
Me. Working on Thanksgiving evening with one customer in the whole bar. But seriously, I’m sure I’ve seen you. Your accent…

Skipper
Perhaps you’ve watched television recently.

Bartender
Sure. This afternoon. We brought one into the bar so everyone could watch the games at Wrigley Field. Had a big crowd in here all day watching football. That’s it! You’re the guy!

Skipper
The guy?

Bartender
The quarterback for that team…

Skipper
The Dixie Stars.

Bartender
That’s it! They showed you on the sidelines after you’d fumbled and were taken out of the game. That was too bad. Lost the whole thing.

Skipper
Thank you so much for the reminder. That whiskey, please?

Bartender
Sure. Sorry.

(The bartender goes to fix the drink. After a beat, Maggie enters in a red moleskin coat and bear skin cap. She comes up behind Skipper and puts her hands over his eyes. He barely reacts.)

Maggie
Guess who?

Skipper
Maggie, what are you doing here?

Maggie
Why, Skipper, you know I have a room here in the Blackstone, too.

3

Skipper
I mean, here. In this bar.

(He turns as he says this.)

My God. Still in costume?

Maggie
I thought it would cheer you up. Gooo Stars!

Skipper
Take it off. It makes me more depressed than I already am.

(She takes off the cap and jacket, revealing a very attractive dress/outfit. The bartender sets down the whiskey in front of Skipper.)

Maggie
What’s he having?

(The bartender has seen her come in and now looks at her as an intruder into what he thought might be an interesting evening.)

Skipper
I was having mint juleps, but they’ve run out of mint, so now it’s just whiskey.

Maggie
Ew. I’ll have a cosmopolitan. What better drink to have in Chicago? Mint Juleps remind me too much of Ole Miss.

Skipper
And what’s wrong with that?

Maggie
Well, nothing, Skipper, if you’re going there, but we’ve all moved on. At least, some of us have.

(Skipper doesn’t answer. He takes a sip of his drink and stares morosely ahead.)

It’s just a game, honey.

Skipper
It was the championship. There were NFL scouts in the stands. They’ll be making offers to the stars of the game.

Maggie
Of which you were not one.

4

Skipper
Thanks, Maggie.

Maggie
Well, you looked lost out there.

Skipper
I wish Brick could have played. We’d have won. Coach said one of the scouts was asking about him.

Maggie
Well, I’m glad he didn’t play. Now, mind you, I am sorry he got hurt in the last game, but if he had played and you had won, some NFL team would be courting him and off we’d go, traipsing from town to town again. It’s too cold to play football up North in the winter.

Skipper
Did you call him?

Maggie
Who?

Skipper
Brick.

(The bartender brings her her drink, and she sips, postponing her answer.)

Well, did you?

Maggie
Mmmm. Yes, I called him before the game. He said the hospital had graciously arranged to have a television in his room so that he could watch the game. I’ll bet that cost a pretty penny.

Skipper
So, he saw…

Maggie
I don’t know. He might have turned it off after that dreadful first quarter. I haven’t talked to him since. He was not very nice before the game. Imagine what he’d be like after.

Skipper
I’m sure he was just upset because he wasn’t able to play.

Maggie
I should have stayed with him and not come to the game.
5

Skipper
You know Brick thinks you’ve been our good luck charm. He wanted you to come.

Maggie
I’m only good luck when Brick is playing quarterback, it seems. Before a big play, he’d look over at me and give me a little wave, and I’d holler like some Mississippi mule: “Gooo Stars!” And he’d throw that long, beautiful pass—and there you’d be, as if you’d been waiting for it.

Skipper
It’s timing. Playing all those years together. We know each other’s every move.

Maggie
That’s more than I can say. We played together a lot in college, too, but sometimes I think our relationship is less intimate than yours.

Skipper
What’s that mean?

Maggie
It means, Skipper, dear, that you seem to know him better than I do.

Skipper
We’ve been friends a long time. Since high school.

Maggie
I think I’ll have another one of these. Bartender?

(The bartender comes over.)

Bartender
(a little brusquely)
Yes?

Maggie
(to Skipper)
It always throws me off. These Yankees with their quick little “yeses” and “no’s.”

Bartender
What should I have said?

Maggie
In the South we have manners. You’d have said, “Yes, ma’am.”

Bartender
(sarcastic)
Yes, ma’am.
6

Maggie
Ooo. You make it sound worse that just plain ole “yes.” I’ll have another drink, please.

Bartender
(to Skipper, more sincere)
And you, Sir?

Skipper
I’ll have another whiskey.

Bartender
(pointedly toward Maggie)
Yes, Sir.

(He exits.)

Maggie
Ooo, I think the bartender has a thing for you.

Skipper
Maggie.

Maggie
Don’t you see the way he looked at you?

Skipper
No.

Maggie
Well, he certainly didn’t look at me that way. And many men do, you know. No, just the opposite.

(Pause.)

Well, I guess it’s over.

Skipper
What, Maggie?

Maggie
This whole, horrible, prolonged football thing is finally done. This whole Dixie Stars, semi-professional league will just shrivel back to the South where it will all be neatly folded away.

Skipper
Brick had a vision.

7

Maggie
Oh, tell me about it. “None of the pros have really seen Southern teams play: those Alabama boys, those Ole Miss Rebels, those Georgia Bulldogs.”

Skipper
He was right. The farthest South that even the All American League went was Greensboro, North Carolina.

Maggie
Well, he got his wish: a game on national television.

Skipper
But without Brick in the game.

Maggie
Without Brick in the game…and with you drunk!

Skipper
Maggie, I was not—

Maggie
Don’t deny it, Skipper. It was so obvious, I could tell all the way in the stands. Don’t forget, I’ve seen your moves back when we double-dated in college: you and Gladys Fitzgerald and me and Brick. You boys in the front seat and us in the back like old married couples.

Skipper
We had longer legs.

Maggie
And by the end of the evening, when you’d both had too much to drink, you’d be wearing this idiot smile, and you’d walk with a little skip, like you couldn’t tell if there was a step in front of you that might be going up or down. There you were, running out to the huddle with that little skip and that idiot smile.

Skipper
I—I was nervous..without Brick.

Maggie
You were nothing without Brick.

(Skipper goes silent. The bartender brings them their drinks and sees the tension, looks at Maggie and shakes his head. He exits. Skipper takes a long drink.)

I’m sorry, Skipper. That was cruel, and I’ve had enough cruel things said about me to know better.

8

Skipper
(almost inaudible)
We were… a team. I’d never played without him before.

Maggie
(touching him)
I know, honey. I said I was sorry. It’s all over now.

(Waving to her surroundings.)

This was nice. The famous Blackstone in Chicago! Better than all those fleabag hotels during the regular season.

Skipper
The sponsors—

Maggie
The sponsors will have us packed and out of here by the end of the weekend, you can count on that. If it wasn’t for Brick, I’m sure I wouldn’t have a room here.

(She raises her glass.)

Here’s to Brick.

Skipper
(toasts)
To Brick.

(They drink. Again, a quiet settles upon them.)

That’s how I got my nickname.

Maggie
Pardon?

Skipper
People used to think it was because I was captain of the high school team, you know, the Skipper. But my mother called me that because as a child I love to skip. Instead of walking, I’d skip.

Maggie
Oh…

Skipper
You think Brick will be mad with me?

 

9

Maggie
Hell, yes. Going to the championship game drunk? On national television?

Skipper
Why are you so mean to me, Maggie?

Maggie
I don’t know what you mean.

Skipper
Yes, you do.

Maggie
No. I like you, Skipper. We’ve been…friends, haven’t we?

(Pause.)

Well, I didn’t like it when you and Brick wanted to keep playin’ football. We’d graduated. You’d been playing all your life and it was time to…well, get serious. Brick and I had gotten married. Job offers were coming in—for you, too. But, no, it’s the Dixie Stars. More football! More games.

Skipper
The jobs were just games, too. That’s what Brick said. “What’s the difference between sellin’ insurance and thowin’ a touchdown pass?” he said. “You sell the insurance and no one yells for you. No one cheers.” and we made more money throwin’ passes than we could’ve selling insurance.

Maggie
For this one season. And now it’s over. I think it’s over for good.

(Calling:)

Bartender? Bartender?

 

(He comes over.)

What time is it?

Bartender
A little after three.

Maggie
In the morning? Goodness. Don’t you ever close?

 

10

Bartender
Not on a holiday. Your girlfriend’s never been to the big city?

Skipper
She’s not my girlfriend. She’s my best friend’s…wife.

Bartender
Oh.

Maggie
And what’s that mean?

Bartender
What?

Maggie
The way you said, “Oh,” like you have some kind of inside joke you’re laughing at.

Bartender
I’m sure I don’t know what you mean.

Maggie
“I’m sure I don’t know what you mean.” “Oh.”

Skipper
Maggie.

Maggie
I’m going to the powder room.

(She exits.)

Bartender
She’s a bit catty, isn’t she?

Skipper
She’s just mad at me.

Bartender
What on earth for?

Skipper
(he knows)
I don’t know.

Bartender
And where’s her husband?
11

Skipper
In the hospital in Toledo.

Bartender
Why isn’t she with him?

Skipper
He wanted her to be at the game.

Bartender
Oh.

Skipper
You do have a funny way of saying “Oh.”

Bartender
(laughs)
You should get rid of her.

Skipper
She’s my best friend’s wife.

Bartender
So?

Skipper
It would be…rude.

Bartender
You’re too nice a guy.

Skipper
Thank you.

Bartender
No, really.

Skipper
Really. Thank you.

(Maggie returns.)

Maggie
I think I’ll have one more.

 

12

Bartender
(fake)
Yes, ma’am.

(He exits.)

Maggie
Who does he think he is?

Skipper
“A nice guy.”

Maggie
Well, I don’t think so.

(The lights fade.)

Scene Two

Scene: A few hours later. Skipper and Maggie have come outside to watch the sunrise.
They’ve got coats and caps on. They’re both very drunk and have a tendency to support each other as they wobble in the cold.

Maggie
Woo, it is too cold. Look at that sun.

Skipper
Up all night. We haven’t done that since college.

Maggie
It wasn’t that long ago. Somehow you and Brick would be throwing a football, drunk or sober.

Skipper
And you’d be screaming at us to go outside.

Maggie
Do you know how many glued together pieces of furniture were in my apartment because you broke them?

Skipper
I offered to replace them.

Maggie
Which you’d probably break all over again. No. I was waiting for Brick to get the boy out of him and turn into Brick, the man.

13

Skipper
Is that why you made him marry you?

Maggie
I didn’t make him do anything.

Skipper
He told me you said if he didn’t—

Maggie
He told you—yes, of course, he told you…everything.

Skipper
We’re best friends.

Maggie
What does that mean, Skipper?

Skipper
What do you mean, Maggie?

Maggie
How can I earn that title, please?

Skipper
Maggie, Brick loves you.

Maggie
And how do you know this, Skipper? Oh, of course, he tells you everything. Why doesn’t he tell me?

Skipper
He shows you.

Maggie
How does he do that?

Skipper
Well, you know…

Maggie
Does he tell you about that, too?

Skipper
Oh, no.

 

14

Maggie
Well, then, how do you know?

Skipper
Just the way he is after he’s been with you.

Maggie
And how is that?

Skipper
I don’t know. Happy, I guess.

Maggie
You guess.

Skipper
He has this look…I’ve always wished I couild have that look.

Maggie
I dare say, he hasn’t had that look for a while.

Skipper
What are you saying, Maggie?

Maggie
This whole damnable football season. It’s been all about the game this weekend. It’s been, “Got to practice; got to talk to the team about our strategy.” And then afterward—after you’d win, it’s “did you see Skipper catch that ball? How about that run for the touchdown?” Why, he probably touched you more than he did me.

Skipper
Maggie.

Maggie
His arm draped over your shoulder after the game, you both with big smiles plastered all over your faces.

Skipper
We were winning.

Maggie
I felt like I was losing.

Skipper
You didn’t say anything.

 

15

Maggie
What was I going to say?

Skipper
I thought you were having a good time.

Maggie
Oh, yes, Margaret’s having a fine old time watching Brick and Skipper talk about football. I just tried to be there for him. Cheer him on while I was really…

Skipper
He always made sure you were in the stands.

Maggie
Yes, Sir!

(She salutes.)

There I am right on the first row, fifty yard line: Goooo Stars!

Skipper
We—I thought you were having fun.

Maggie
No, you were having fun. You had Brick all to yourself.

Skipper
We were teammates. Best friends.

Maggie
And weren’t you always wanting more?

Skipper
I don’t know what you’re talking about. I think you’ve had more to drink than me.

Maggie
I know perfectly well what I’m talking about. You had Brick, and I was alone. Did that make you happy? Did it, Skipper?

Skipper
You…were…jealous?

Maggie
Weren’t you? That summer after graduation, and Brick and I were newlyweds? For that little time, he was all mine. And I could see you were like a lost, little puppy dog. And then came this football scheme, and you got him back, didn’t you?

16

Skipper
Maggie, I don’t understand what you’re saying.

Maggie
Yes, you do. Skipper! Stop loving my husband or tell him he’s got to let you admit it to him!

(There is a shocked silence. Skipper looks at Maggie, eyes wide and wild. He slaps her and stares at his hand. Then he runs off. Maggie holds her cheek and looks after him.)

On way or another, Skipper. One way or another.

Scene Three

Scene: It’s Skipper’s room at the Blackstone that evening. He’s lying on the bed in a T-
shirt and pants. He’s been drinking in earnest again, and he’s reeling from too little sleep and too much alcohol. There is a noise: a light tap at his door? A mouse scratching? His head comes up. he’s still quite awake. There is the noise again.

Skipper
Go away!

Maggie
(Off, in a small voice)
Skipper?

Skipper
Go away!

Maggie
(Off)
Skipper, it’s me, Maggie.

Skipper
I don’t want to talk to you!

Maggie
But I need to talk to you, Skipper.

Skipper
Please, Maggie, go away.

Maggie
I want to talk to you about Brick.

17

(Reluctantly, Skipper rises and stumbles a little skip to the door. He opens it, letting Maggie in. She’s again dressed in her best and looks very attractive. Skipper barely looks at her, turning his back and going back to flop down on the bed. Maggie is tentative in her entrance. She picks up a bottle on the night stand. It’s half full.

Maggie
Southern Comfort. How do they have Southern Comfort in Chicago?

Skipper
This is the Blackstone.

Maggie
Oh, yes. I could use some Southern Comfort right now.

Skipper
Help yourself.

(She finds a glass and wipes it out. She pours some into it and sips.)

Maggie
Mmm.

(Pause.)

Skipper?

Skipper
Hmm?

Maggie
We were both very drunk last night.

Skipper
Still am.

Maggie
Yes, well, we might have said some things…

Skipper
Yes, we said some things.

Maggie
Skipper, you could at least be a gentleman. I’m trying to talk to you here.

(He rises to a seated position.)

18

Skipper
I’m sorry, Maggie. You were saying?

Maggie
There might have been harsh words between us.

Skipper
You don’t remember?

(He is slightly hopeful for a moment, but shrugs. He indicates the bottle.)

Here.

(She hands it to him and he takes a swallow. As he leans his head back to drink, he winces and his hand comes to his neck.)

Maggie
Sore?

Skipper
Always. After a game.

Maggie
Here.

(She indicates the bottle. He hands it to her. She looks at it, takes a swig, grimaces, and sets it down.)

Brick taught me this.

(She stands over Skipper and begins to massage his neck. His head sags down and he moans involuntarily.)

How’s that?

Skipper
You have strong hands. Like Brick.

(This causes a momentary pause, but she continues.)

Maggie
So much tension.

(Pause.)

Of course I remember what we said last night. It’s a curse having such a good memory. A curse and a blessing ‘cause you remember all the stupidity but also the joy. I really
19

Maggie
(continues)
was happy that you and Brick had been able to—continue that dream, that roar of the crowd, staying boys for longer than you might. The world is such a damn serious place, and I was happy that Brick was able to play a little longer and make other people happy, too. I really was, Skipper. I was just selfish. I wanted him all to myself.

Skipper
(finally turning from the neck rub)
I was selfish, too. You see, Maggie, the only real happiness I’ve known…is all the times with Brick…and you, of course.

Maggie
Oh, ho! You were happy with me?

Skipper
You made Brick happy—make him happy—and that seemed to light up everything. He…dated a lot of girls before he met you.

Maggie
Believe me, his reputation proceeded him.

Skipper
But you…you changed him.

Maggie
I did not change Mr. Brick Pollitt.

Skipper
You made him…slow down…enjoy the moment a little more, made him smile.

Maggie
Aw, Skipper, that’s so sweet. But I always felt it was you—you who kept him from going off every which way—like a rope tying some big balloon to the earth.

Skipper
(ruefully)
Yeah, I tied him down all right. He could have gone on, taken one of those job offers, but then he’d look at me. I’ve never been any good at anything but football. I sometimes think he went through all this just so I could do something. Just to look out for me.

Maggie
Now, Skipper, I will not have this little pity party. You were right last night. You were a team. You say you couldn’t have made it without Brick? He couldn’t have made it without you.

 

20

Skipper
You think so?

Maggie
Who was waiting there to catch those passes? Who cut through the back field and out into the open? Who reached out and snagged that ball out of the air when it looked impossible?

(She is sitting next to him and this praise overwhelms him. He grabs her and kisses her hard. She lets it go on without protest until he breaks off and turns away.)

Goodness! I don’t believe I ever saw you kiss Gladys Fitzgerald with such…passion.

Skipper
I’m sorry. You just made me feel…I can understand why Brick…needed you…

(She turns his head back and kisses him softly.)

Maggie
We’re both lonely without him, aren’t we?

(He nods, almost mesmerized by that last kiss. He leans in and kisses her again, and they recline on the bed, his hand coming up to caress her as the lights fade to black.)

Scene Four

Scene: It’s a few months later. We’re in Brick’s office. It may just be a desk and chair
or two, though it may be more elaborate. Brick is dressed in a suit and looks full of vitality as he reads some sports information memos. There is a knock at his door.

Brick
Yeah!

(Maggie enters. Brick comes to her and gives her a kiss.)

Maggie, darlin’, what brings you here?

Maggie
I was just doing some shopping, and I wanted to ask you about this Sunday.

Brick
What about this Sunday?

 

21

Maggie
Well, I’m a little nervous about all the people coming.

Brick
Yes, yes. I told you I understand. New city, new house. I know you want to meet people.

Maggie
What I was thinking was that I’d set up lawn croquet. Would that be all right?

Brick
Maggie, you know you don’t need my approval for every little thing.

Maggie
You might think it’s silly.

Brick
I don’t think many of the coaches or staff will play.

Maggie
But their wives and children might.

Brick
You’re right, you’re right. Actually, that’s a good idea. The weather’s still nice. Get them out of the house so we men can talk. All we need is good food and lots of beer. Say, if you wait just a minute, Skipper is on his way up.

Maggie
Skipper?

Brick
I finally got him to come down to Dallas. I’m going to see if I can get him to join the team.

Maggie
Skipper? Playing football again?

Brick
No. The broadcast team! I figure I’ll be up in the booth, but I could get Skipper to be down on the field, you know, to give special reports or interviews. Had the damnedest time getting him down here. I think he still thinks I’m mad at him about the game.

Maggie
He was very upset.

 

22

Brick
He had a right to be, and I was mad—as a wet hornet, but it’s all in the past. I figure maybe it was meant to be ‘cause here we are.

Maggie
Here we are.

Brick
Maggie, honey, I know this job might not be exactly what you expected after the Stars ended, but it’s the NFL, girl. They’re giving a Southern team a chance to compete, and they wanted me to do the play-by-play.

Maggie
Well, at least you’re not doing the play-by-play down on the field in a uniform.

Brick
(testy)
You don’t think I could?

Maggie
No, Brick. I’m sure you could, but…I’m glad you’re not.

Brick
The doctor says my back is all right.

Maggie
And I’m happy, Brick. I really and truly am relieved, but…what if you hurt it again?

(Pause.)

Anyway, you’re still playing football in a way, aren’t you?

Brick
Talkin’ about it ain’t playin’ it, but, I guess, in a way, it’s a lot easier…and I get paid just about as much.

(There’s a knock at the door.)

I’ll bet that’s Skipper.

(He goes to the door, and Skipper is there, a little bedraggled-looking. He’s been drinking, even though it’s morning.)

Skipper!

(Brick grabs his hand with both of his.)

23

Brick
(continues)
Come in, come in! It’s great to see you.

Skipper
Good to see you, too, Brick.

Brick
Maggie, it’s Skipper.

(They see each other for the first time, and there is an awkwardness, though Brick doesn’t catch it.)

Maggie
Hello, Skipper.

Skipper
Hi, Maggie.

Brick
You are one hard man to track down! What have you been doing with yourself? Why haven’t you gotten in touch?

Skipper
Went to visit family during the holdays.

Brick
Hell, Man, it’s almost April.

Skipper
Yeah.

Brick
Maggie thinks you’re worried that I’m still mad with you about the game.

Maggie
Brick, I—

Brick
But I told her, “that’s water under the bridge,” didn’t I, Maggie?

Maggie
Yes.

Skipper
You’re not mad?

24

Brick
I was, believe me…but, no, not any more. Look, I’ve got this new job as sports announcer here.

Maggie
Brick, I’m going to go.

Brick
Don’t you want to stay and see Skipper? Maybe we can all go out to lunch together.

Maggie
There’s so much I have to do before Sunday.

Brick
Hey, Skipper, we’re having a big party this Sunday for the new coaching staff and the broadcast crew. You oughta come.

Maggie
(kissing Brick on the cheek)
Bye, Brick, honey. So good to see you again, Skipper.

Skipper
You, too, Maggie.

(She exits.)

Brick
Have a seat. Have a seat.

(Skipper sits in the chair. Brick rests against the edge of the desk.)

Skipper, I asked you here ‘cause I wanted to offer you a job…unless you’ve already got something lined up.

Skipper
Uh, I have been looking into a few things.

Brick
Let ‘em go, boy. I’d like for you to work with me during the football season.

Skipper
Doing what, Brick?

Brick
Why, being a sports announcer.

 

25

Skipper
I’ve never done anything like that.

Brick
(laughs)
Neither have I! But, look, it’s just talking about football, just like we used to do all the time, but instead of talking about the plays we’re going to do or the defense we’re going to face, we talk about the plays going on out on the field during the game.

Skipper
I don’t know, Brick.

Brick
It’ll be fun! Just like throwing passes to each other, only I’ll be up in the booth and you’ll be down on the field. Like this: “Well, it’s third down and seven, and it looks like the Texans are going to have to pass. What do you think, Skipper?”

(Skipper just sits there, staring blankly.)

Just imagine we’re at a game, and we’re doing the broadcast.

Skipper
Yep, Brick, gonna have to pass.

Brick
Skipper, what’re you doing drinking so early in the morning?

Skipper
You’d say that at a game?

(Pause. It isn’t funny.)

You can tell?

Brick
Hell, yes. You smell like a distillery. I’m surprised Maggie didn’t faint dead on.

Skipper
I don’t know, Brick. I guess I was just nervous about coming here to see you.

Brick
I know you thought I’d be mad, but we could always talk things out, couldn’t we?

Skipper
Sure.

 

26

Brick
You remember the time we were out at Sardis Lake, and it was getting late, and we’d been drinking around the campfire. Maggie and me were snuggled up, and suddenly, you jumped up, threw off all your clothes and ran buck naked into the lake.

Skipper
Went a little crazy.

Brick
Liked to scared Gladys to death. Then later, when the girls had gone to lay down in that big old Buick, we sat around that campfire, passing the bottle, and you told me Maggie was no good for me.

Skipper
You got real mad.

Brick
Hell, yes, I got mad! My best friend bad-mouthing my best girl! But we talked it out. You remember?

Skipper
You said you wanted me and Maggie to be friends.

Brick
I said I couldn’t stand it if my best friend couldn’t see that Maggie made me happy, and that if he was my best friend, he’d want that.

Skipper
Yeah.

Brick
So what’s with this drinking at ten in the morning?

Skipper
I don’t know, Brick.

Brick
You don’t know?

Skipper
Ever since the game…

Brick
(with humor)
You’ve been drinking ever since the game?

 

27

Skipper
(serious)
Pretty much.

Brick
I was kidding, Skipper.

Skipper
It kind of blurs up time, Brick. Makes the day flow away, and pretty soon, it’s over. But, see, I wake up. So I just blur that next day away, too.

Brick
Skipper, that’s no good. Look, I told you, the game is all—

Skipper
No, it’s not that.

Brick
Then what is it?

Skipper
I’m not sure I can explain it.

Brick
What the hell is it?

(Pause. Skipper is silent.)

All that’s gonna change. I got this job for you, see—

Skipper
I just don’t think I can do it, Brick.

Brick
What do you mean, you can’t do it? Of course, you can do it. I’ve told the management here you’re one of the finest football minds I know. Hell, we talked strategy before every game. you knew the opposing team’s defense like the back of your—

Skipper
I don’t want to do it, Brick.

(Pause.)

Brick
Look, I should have called you after that game…told you it was Ok. You were under a lot of pressure, and I knew it. Like that time we played Alabama and lost…I knew how you might take it and I should have called. Really, friendship is more important--
28

Skipper
But you didn’t call, did you? Didn’t call at all, not my family, not even something to Maggie that she could say to me.

(He rises.)

I need a drink.

(Brick intercepts him and turns him around.)

Brick
Skipper, I don’t understand. We’ve got a chance here. This is a big opportunity. Oh, I know it’s not like actually playing, but it’s kind of like playing, without taking all the licks.

Skipper
I think I need to be through with football.

Brick
Through with football?

Skipper
The only reason I did it at all was because of you. You and me, having fun.

Brick
And we can still have fun, doing this.

Skipper
(blurting it out)
I’ve got to go.

Brick
Where do you have to go?

Skipper
You remember Randy Duvall? He’s opened up a big car dealership here in Dallas.

Brick
Hell, Skipper, that’s all television is: selling stuff. Give people something to keep their attention for a few minutes and then slip in something about laundry soap…or cars, for that matter.

Skipper
I told him I’d come by.

 

29

Brick
Well, afterward, come over and see my house. Not as nice as my daddy’s, but it’s not bad for starting out. Hey, you could stay there. Sunday we’re having this big party for the coaching staff and broadcast crew, and you could meet them.

Skipper
I already got a room. You paid for it.

Brick
Don’t worry about it.

Skipper
Sounds like Maggie is pretty busy getting ready. I’d be in the way.

Brick
Hell, I’m going to be in the way. Maybe we could just hang out together, like the old days. We’re still friends, aren’t we? I mean, maybe you’re mad at me.

Skipper
Mad at you? What are you talking about?

Brick
You know, for not calling.

Skipper
I don’t blame you. I’m not mad…I was sad. Look, there’s a couple of other people I gotta see while I’m here.

Brick
But you’ll at least come on Sunday. Come on, Skipper. I was really looking forward to doing this with you.

Skipper
(this touches him)
Really, Brick?

Brick
I mean it, Skipper.

Skipper
Ok, I’ll be there.

(The lights fade.)

Scene Five
Scene: A suggestion of Brick and Maggie’s Dallas home, just a couch, lamp, and end
table, perhaps. Brick is having a beer with Miles Farmer, the owner of the team,
30

who holds a drink of whiskey and chews a cigar, not smoking it. He is a large, opinionated man who’s made millions in the oil industry. There is raucous noise drifting in from outside. It’s a lovely Southern spring day with light flowing in for the perfect party.

Brick
I guess the croquet is a hit.

Miles
Hell, those coaches are so competitive they’d have a contest on who could pee the longest. But it’s good, it’s good. Gives us a chance to talk about the season. I’ve put up a lot of money to buy this team and bring ‘em to Dallas.

Brick
Yes, sir.

Miles
And I know you’re gonna do a great job of bringing the whole thing to life.

Brick
I’m going to give it my best, Mr. Farmer.

Miles
Call me Miles, Brick. My daddy named me that: said to my Mama, “This boy is gonna go miles and miles.” And I reckon I have.

Brick
Yes, sir.

Miles
Brick is a good name. Solid, manly.

Brick
My daddy named me, too. Said he was laying the foundation for an empire.

Miles
See? We got something in common. What business is your daddy in, Brick?

Brick
Maybe it’s ironic, your name being Farmer, but he owns a big piece of land in Mississippi. Grows cotton, among other things.

Miles
Only thing I dug in the ground for was oil. But I admire a man of the soil. Not for you, though, eh, Brick?

 

31

Brick
Worked in the fields too much as a boy. My daddy believed hard work would toughen up his sons. Make them appreciate getting things the hard way…like he did, though my older brother always found ways of getting out of it. Hurt his back or had a cold or something. I couldn’t do that. Maybe that’s why he’s a lawyer, ‘cause he could. But, no, it wasn’t for me. Daddy’d have to be the boss as long as he could.

Miles
And you like to run things yourself, eh, Brick? That’s why you were a great quarterback. I remember watchin’ you play in Memphis, what was it, your sophomore year?

Brick
Yes, sir. Delta Bowl.

Mile
Beat TCU if I recall. And then your venture with the Dixie Stars…

Brick
That didn’t work out so well.

Miles
Hell, boy, you had the right idea. It’s what made me jump at the chance to bring an NFL team to the South.

Brick
Really?

Miles
And it’s what made me think of you as my broadcast anchor for this debut season.

Brick
Well, thank you, sir. I wanted to talk to you about that. I invited an old teammate here today because I’d like to have him on the broadcast crew as…

Miles
Can’t say “halfback” or wide receiver,” right? Sidekick? I met the fellow—Skip—Skippy—

Brick
Skipper…

Miles
Right. I’ll tell you, Brick, I like a man who’ll take a drink of whiskey, but he went right past me and up to the bar. Barely said hello. I don’t like a man who hangs around a whiskey bottle like a blue fly.

 

32

Brick
He just gets nervous in social situations.

Miles
I can understand that, but he must be a mighty nervous fella ‘cause he downed three shots in a row before I could say Jack be nimble. Then he ran out with another big ole glass and went out to play croquet, he said.

Brick
Yes, sir.

Miles
A man wants a job, he needs to talk to the one doing the hiring.

Brick
Yes, sir. But, see, Mr. Farmer—Miles, sir, he doesn’t think he can do it, but I know he can. I’ll work with him, and he’ll be just fine.

Miles
(deliberates)
Well…if you vouch for him, Brick.

Brick
Yes, sir.

Miles
Then I’ll take your word and put him in your hands.

Brick
Thank you, sir.

Miles
Miles.

(There is a commotion outside: A shout and/or scream mixed with laughter and more shouts.)

Somebody must have made some kind of spectacular croquet shot, whatever the hell that is. Told you those boys were competitive.

(Maggie enters in consternation, but when she sees Miles, she tries to put on a more casual air.)

Mrs. Pollitt, your croquet game must be quite a hit. I hope we can get that much noise out of our fans for a football game.

 

33

Maggie
Why, Mr. Farmer, with Brick calling the play-by-play, I’m sure he’ll get everyone fired up. And call me Maggie, please.

Miles
Maggie, you probably don’t know but the home games will be blacked out for local television so we can get more fans in the seats. Brick will do the radio for home games.

Maggie
I did not know that. I will be a fan in the seats, and I’ll bring my Motorola portable radio to listen to Brick. Speaking of blackouts, may I have a word with you, Brick? Excuse me, Mr. Farmer.

(He raises his glass and wanders off. Maggie begins in a tense whisper as soon as he’s out of earshot.)

You have got to do something about Skipper.

Brick
What’s wrong?

Maggie
What’s wrong? Didn’t you hear all the noise? Skipper is laying out there with his head in a wicket by the stake with a glass of whiskey in his hand, just passed out. No one can play and it’s just…embarrassing.

(Skipper has appeared at the end of this, drunk and disorderly.)

Skipper
Am I embarrassing? Hey, Brick, old boy! I tried to take a little nap out there, but everyone was yelling at me. Couldn’t sleep a wink. Quiet in here.

(He sees the couch.)

This looks nice.

(He goes to it and lies down.)

Maggie
(still low and tense)
Brick!

Brick
Come on, Skipper, let me take you upstairs, and you can take a nap on a nice bed.

(He starts to try to get Skipper up, but he refuses.)

34

Skipper
I ain’t going up there! I ain’t sleeping on your bed.

(Miles has come back in.)

Miles
Say, what’s going on here?

Brick
Skipper here has had a little too much to drink. I’m just taking him upstairs to sleep it off.

Miles
Brick, I told you about this.

(Brick has managed to get Skipper to his feet, an arm draped over his shoulder.)

Brick
He’ll be fine. He just got…overexcited.

Skipper
Hey, Mr. Football Owner! You need to fire them coaches. They yell too much. Always hated coaches who yell too much. Right, Brick?

Miles
Brick, there are families with children here.

Brick
Please, Mr. Farmer. I’ll handle it. Maggie?

(She immediately goes to Miles and scoots her arm into his.)

Maggie
There’s quite a game going on out there. Let me escort you while Brick handles…this.

Skipper
Bye-bye, Maggie, Mr. Football Owner!

(They exit, both with disapproving looks of differing natures.)

Brick
Skipper, dammit, what’s wrong with you!? I had just talked Mr. Farmer into giving you a job, and now you’ve gone and ruined it.

Skipper
I ruin everything, don’t I, Brick?

35

Brick
Come on. You need to sleep this off. Maybe we can go in tomorrow, sober, and apologize.

Skipper
I told you I don’t wanna go upstairs.

Brick
Skipper, please—

Skipper
I ain’t sleepin’ in the bed where you and Maggie sleep.

Brick
That’s ridiculous.

Skipper
(slyly)
Where you two make love.

Brick
What the hell are you talking about?

Skipper
‘Cause it’ll remind me too much.

Brick
You’re talking crazy. Now, come on.

Skipper
No, I ain’t crazy…well, maybe I am, but, see, Brick, I can’t sleep in your bed ‘cause it’ll remind me of Maggie and me sleepin’ together…

Brick
Shut up, Skipper.

Skipper
In Chicago. While you were in the hospital.

(This hits Brick like a slap. Skipper, on the other hand, has moved on.)

Didn’t work out then, not gonna work out now. Coaches too mean. Mr. Football Owner too stuffy.

Brick
Come on. I’ll set up a cot in the garage. You can sleep there.
(They move off as the lights fade to black. End of Act One.)
36

Act Two

Scene One
Scene: It’s Brick and Maggie’s living room more than six months later. Brick stands
facing the audience with a drink in his hands. Maggie enters, wearing the air of false frivolity, a sense that if she teases and jokes, she can make Brick’s new morose behavior lighten. It’s obvious she thinks it all revolves around sports because the team hasn’t won one game in the seven they’ve played. She weaves about him, touching him occasionally in hopeful ways. His reaction to her touch is either indifference or vague irritation, as if a mosquito were buzzing about.

Maggie
Isn’t it just a beautiful day for this late in October?

(No answer.)

Dallas certainly isn’t Mississippi, but at least the temperatures are similar.

(No answer.)

I’m surprised you’re not down at the office going over statistics and films and biographies or whatever so you can make all those brilliant comments about this team’s record or that player’s passing yards.

(No answer.)

I’m just teasing, Brick, honey. It does make the game so much more interesting.

(No answer.)

Honey, just ‘cause the team’s been losing, you don’t need to take it so personally. I mean, it’s not like you’re playing.

Brick
(finally turning to her)
No, I’m not playing.

Maggie
That’s right. And if you were, I’m sure things would be different. I mean, Lord, I know you’ve bitten your tongue so many times it’s a bloody mess when you see this play called or that play called, and you want to just yell, “It’s all wrong! It’s all wrong!” Even I can see that. Am I right, honey?

Brick
Yes, you are, Maggie.

 

37

Maggie
But you don’t need to take it out on me.

Brick
Take it out on you, Maggie?

Maggie
Yes. With these long silent spells—that seem to have gotten longer with each game the team loses. I’m not to blame for that, am I?

Brick
No, you’re not to blame for that.

Maggie
So, please, Brick, honey, maybe you could…well…leave the disappointment at the office because it’s not your fault. Oh, I remember those days…after winning a big game, how you’d spin me around, and we’d laugh and…have fun…and, yes, I remember how you’d get when you’d lose a game, how you’d mope around all day Sunday, but then by Monday, you’d be up and raring to start over, getting ready for the next game. I know you tried to do that here, and I know how hard it must be to be helpless.

Brick
(is he skeptical or bemused or probing?)
You know about that?

Maggie
Not about football, but I know about being helpless. I remember how I felt when I debuted in Memphis, how I knew they were all looking down their noses at me, the poor relation, wearing a borrowed dress. I was helpless—without help—but did I let them see it? Why, I just walked around like I was the richest girl there. And none of them knew I was pretending, that inside I wished I were miles and miles away. Maybe you could do that for me, Brick.

Brick
What’s that, Maggie?

Maggie
Pretend, just a little, that we’re winning, and we are, Brick. You’ve done so well, and you’re not to blame that the team is useless.

Brick
I’m not very good at pretending.

(He goes to refill his glass.)

 

38

Maggie
I know, honey. I don’t blame you for not wanting to go in today. Hell, I’m amazed you’ve kept at it this far. Seven losses in a row, but, the drinking—

(Brick turns, some life coming into him.)

Brick
What about it?

Maggie
(trying to joke)
I can tell…at the games…you’re sometimes just a little tipsy…and now, this morning, why, you’re reminding me of Skipper.

Brick
(bristling)
What about Skipper?

Maggie
Well, you know…

Brick
No, I don’t know.

(Pause.)

I think Skipper was right, though, about needing to find a way to black out the day, to just blot out all the damn seconds and minutes.

(He drinks. Another pause.)

Maggie
Have you heard from Skipper?

Brick
Not since our famous croquet incident.

Maggie
Infamous.

Brick
Oh, no, it’s been the big joke of the season.

Maggie
I know you wanted him to work with you—

 

39

Brick
He would have hated it.

Maggie
Well, it was rude of him.

Brick
What? To turn me down?

Maggie
No. To leave without even a good-bye.

(Pause. Brick contemplates this.)

I know you still care about him.

Brick
He’s my friend, my best friend. Yes, I “care” about him, but dammit, I haven’t been able to find out where he’s gone. Called his mother. They’ve been sending him money, but it’s a Post Office box in Memphis or a wire to Jackson.

Maggie
You didn’t tell me about that.

Brick
He just seems to be roaming around…

Maggie
I know you’re not used to all this.

Brick
All what?

Maggie
All this…losing. Losing team, losing Skipper…but you haven’t lost me.

Brick
Haven’t I, Maggie?

(There is a long pause and then a knock. It’s one of those metal door knockers that makes an ominous clack.)

That’ll be Miles. I asked him to come over. Would you mind, Maggie?

Maggie
Wait just a minute, Brick. What did you mean just now?

40

Brick
This is important.

Maggie
What you just said—That’s important.

Brick
We can talk later. Would you mind? I really have to talk to him privately.

(He exits for the door. She stands there bewildered, then exits in the opposite direction. After a moment, Brick and Miles enter, Brick still holding his glass of bourbon.)

Miles
I’m actually glad you called and wanted to meet, though I’m surprised that is was here and not at the team offices.

Brick
It’s part of why I wanted to talk to you.

Miles
Brick, it’s been tough on me—I know it’s been tough on you.

Brick
Yes, sir.

Miles
Never in my life have I had to depend on so many other people for success: coaches, players, publicity staff, hell, the NFL itself. Usually, I was the one I could look to for blame or praise. Maybe I could depend on one or two people to help me run things. You know what I mean?

Brick
I really do.

Miles
And then it was solid things like an oil drill, a land lease…it wasn’t “will the team pass or run on third and three?”

Brick
Should have passed.

Miles
Oh, you’re taking me literally. I could tell on the broadcast you were pretty disgusted with that call.

 

41

Brick
Lost the game.

Miles
Well, it’s history. I’m letting the team go. I know, I know…I thought I could stick it out, but no sense adding more to the drill when you know the well is empty. Cut your losses. The NFL will take over the franchise for the last three games. I’ve recommended they keep you on the broadcast team, but I can’t guarantee—

Brick
No, no, don’t worry about that. I wanted to meet with you to tell you I’m quitting.

(Pause.)

Miles
In a way, that’s a relief.

Brick
Yes.

Miles
You did a good job, Brick.

Brick
I don’t think I did, if you want to know the truth. I nearly walked out of several of the last games.

Miles
I don’t blame you, Brick. So. What are you gonna do now?

Brick
(moving to the bourbon)
I’m going to have another drink. Would you like one?

Miles
Don’t mind if I do.

(Brick pours himself and Miles a drink.)

I was convinced that the South was ready for more than high school and college football, but attendance sure proved me wrong.

Brick
Maybe you were ahead of your time.

Miles
Here’s to trying.
42

(They toast.)

Miles
What are you really going to do? I mean, I’ve lost a lot of money, but I had plenty to lose, and I’ll go make more.

Brick
I don’t know, Miles. I really don’t.

Miles
Well, you’ve got family you can turn to.

(Brick looks at him sharply, saying nothing.)

Forgive me, Brick. I never could take to that sort of thing either. My daddy would have always wanted something in return…If you knew something about oil, I’d hire you in a heartbeat.

(The phone rings.)

I’ve got to be going. One thing good came of all this. I met a woman.

Brick
A woman?

Miles
Someone who I think I’ll finally let tie me down. Maybe start a family.

Brick
Family.

Miles
Yeah. Out in my business, it’s mainly men: oil rig, wildcatters, but this football…got me in touch with different kinds of people. I’d been looking for someone and didn’t even know it. Does that make sense, Brick?

Brick
(it does in a kind of painful way)
I don’t know, Miles, but…congratulations.

(Maggie enters.)

Maggie
Brick, it’s the phone…for you.

Brick
Be there in a minute.
43

Maggie
It’s Skipper.

Brick
(to Miles)
I’ve got to get this.

Miles
(extending his hand)
Best of luck to you, Brick. Thanks for all you’ve done.

Brick
It was nothing.

(The lights fade on their handshake, Maggie watching.)

Scene Two

Scene: This follows immediately after, but the stage is lit eerily, one area on Skipper
who slouches in a chair at first, but who will rise and move about frenetically, the phone cord whipping about, as if sensing that his honesty dooms him. Brick is in another light, one more stark and solid. Both men drink: Brick almost absently, refilling on occasion; Skipper as if breathing.

Brick
Skipper, is that you?

Skipper
Hiya, Brick.

Brick
I’ve had a dickens of a time tracking you down.

Skipper
Didn’t really want to see you, Brick.

Brick
Why not?

Skipper
Didn’t know what to say.

Brick
Well, you said a lot the last time I saw you.

Skipper
Yes, I did. Sorry about that.
44

Brick
You were pretty drunk.

(Pause as they both drink.)

Skipper
Been listening to you on the TV and radio. You sound great.

Brick
I sound like I got a mouthful of cotton.

Skipper
Can’t help it if you got to talk about a lousy team.

Brick
Look, I’ve quit all that. Today, as a matter of fact. Couldn’t take it any more. You were right. Where are you? I’d like to come and see you. We can talk about old times. Raise a glass.

(Both men raise their glasses with different meanings.)

Skipper
You really want to see me after what I told you?

Brick
You were drunk—

Skipper
I want to tell you…when Maggie and I—well, it happened and it didn’t happen.

Brick
Either it happened or it didn’t happen, Skipper. Which is it?

Skipper
Remember when Maggie used to tutor me back at Ole Miss? I didn’t care much about classes—just football and parties at the fraternity house…You told her to help me with my grades, and she worked with me day after day. She said, “Skipper, if you want to play football, you’ve got to stay in school; you’ve got to pass your classes.” And it helped. I made it through by the skin of my teeth. You said, “Maggie, help the boy.” And she did.

Brick
I remember.

Skipper
She made me feel better about myself. She made me want to learn all that stuff so I could go out on the field on Saturday and do what I really wanted to do.
45

Brick
Yeah.

Skipper
In Chicago…after the game…I was so miserable…I felt like dying.

Brick
Skipper.

Skipper
At first, Maggie acted like you would have acted.

Brick
I saw her on the bench with you—after they took you out of the game.

Skipper
She came out of the stands and right down there. That sympathetic side of her, that sweet side we both love. But later, at the bar, she…she got onto me—about being such a fool… she was rubbin’ my nose in it. Then she said something to me…

Brick
What was that, Skipper?

Skipper
Later, she wanted to apologize for being so hard on me…It was like we were back at Ole Miss, her wanting to make me believe again, believe in myself.

Brick
(absently)
Believe.

Skipper
And one thing led to another.

Brick
(back to alertness)
What led to what?

Skipper
Nothing really happened, Brick.

Brick
What led to what?

Skipper
I tried to close my eyes and think of…I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t love Maggie because… I love you.
46

(Pause.)

Skipper
Brick, you do care about me, don’t you?

Brick
You’re my…yes, I care about you. Of course, I care about you.

Skipper
Yeah. Best friends. When we threw Tommy Whelan out of the fraternity, you know, I felt sad.

Brick
Well, he…he broke the rules…he was accused…

Skipper
Yeah. All the brothers joking about faggots and sissies. I just felt sad for him. That he wasn’t allowed to…love the way he wanted to.

Brick
Skipper, what the hell are you saying?

Skipper
I couldn’t make love to Maggie because I wanted to make love to you.

Brick
Skipper, I don’t want to hear you talking this way. You’re drunk again, aren’t you?

Skipper
Yes. Again and again and again.

Brick
Where are you?

Skipper
And I’ll keep getting drunk because I know you don’t want to hear me talk this way, but I’m getting drunk because it lets me talk this way…after all these years. Maggie made me realize…the whole time…it’s been you.

Brick
Skipper, just quit this.

Skipper
Can’t.

Brick
Where are you? We’ll get you in a place. Dry you out. Get you to come to your senses.
47

Skipper
I can’t stand being locked in anywhere. You know that. I’d sooner kill myself.

Brick
But what you’re saying…it’s making everything we had—you’re making it all seem… disgusting!

Skipper
It’s not disgusting to love. You love Maggie?

Brick
That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about…us.

Skipper
So am I, Brick. Don’t blame Maggie. She really loves you. We both do.

Brick
I said, don’t talk like that. You’re making everything…

Skipper
What?

Brick
Wrong. You’re turning everything into something it’s not.

Skipper
It’s not for you…is it?

Brick
It’s just the booze talking.

Skipper
You just can’t see it…you can’t understand. I tried to lock it up. I tried to make it come to its senses, but I. just. can’t. And that means I can’t see you.

Brick
Will you stop it, Skipper?

Skipper
No.

Brick
Just stop it!

Skipper
No.

48

Brick
(with frustration and hubris)
Then just…Go to hell!

(He hangs up. The lights fade as both men retreat into their own worlds.)

 

Scene Three
Scene: This follows immediately after. Brick sits on the couch, drink in hand as Maggie
enters. During the scene, Brick’s glass of bourbon acts as a kind of barometer. When he thinks he’s lost in a world of lies, he drinks. When the truth seems to be coming out, he ignores it or even sets the glass down.

Maggie
Miles looked so solemn as he was leaving, as if he were going to a funeral. Barely spoke to me. That’s not like him.

Brick
He’s letting the team go.

Maggie
Go where?

Brick
He’s giving the franchise back to the NFL.

Maggie
But didn’t he put up an awful lot of money to get the team in the first place?

Brick
Sometimes you just have to throw in the towel.

Maggie
Does that towel include you?

Brick
Maggie.

Maggie
I know you were starting to hate this whole thing.

(No answer.)

What am I saying? It’s really a good thing, isn’t it?

(No answer.)

49

Maggie
And we can start over. You can go back to being you again and stop being so frustrated and…

(Brick drinks.)

It’s Skipper isn’t it? How is he?

Brick
(rising)
Not good.

Maggie
What did he say?

Brick
We talked about Chicago.

Maggie
Ugh, Chicago. Is he still on that? You told him you weren’t mad at him anymore.

Brick
He wanted to talk about what happened after the game,

(Maggie has a jolt she tries to hide.)

Maggie
What did he say happened?

Brick
You tell me, Maggie. What did happen?

Maggie
What did he say?

Brick
He talked about how you used to tutor him at Ole Miss.

Maggie
Well, he must have been in a mood.

Brick
Yes, he was.

(Pause.)

 

50

Maggie
Brick, I’ve wanted to talk to you about Chicago…about Skipper.

(It’s subtle, but Brick is acutely interested. The glass of bourbon stops midway to Brick’s mouth.)

Brick
What about Chicago?

Maggie
I’d never seen Skipper that way.

Brick
What way is that?

Maggie
So…alone. Oh, I’ve seen him alone—like when we had our famous tutoring sessions. But he really wasn’t alone. He knew you were there in the background. I was you, only a you who could explain isosceles triangles or the meaning of a Hart Crane poem. And in Chicago, after the game, my first thought was “What would Brick say?” You do know he was drunk at the game? Well, I let him have it.

Brick
(the glass is down)
He said that.

Maggie
But then I realized…when I tutored him, I was the nice you. The real you.

Brick
The real me. Are you calling me a fake?

Maggie
Oh, Brick, you put on this rough and tumble character of Brick. But I’ve been in bed with you. I’ve heard your secrets. I know that under there is my sweet boy…and a good man.

Brick
Have I heard your secrets, Maggie?

Maggie
Well, I daresay you have!

(Pause. She looks at him.)

What did Skipper say?

51

Brick
I’m really worried about him.

Maggie
We should go to him. Together. Help him.

Brick
He doesn’t want me to. He wouldn’t tell me where he is.

Maggie
What did he say?

(No answer. The glass is back in his hand and he drinks.)

Brick?

Brick
You were saying something about how “sweet” I was.

Maggie
You are. Well, I realized that this time Skipper was really alone. Truly alone. Always before if he’d lost a game, it was losing with you. If he won, it was with you. Really, if he passed a class, it was for you. But this time…he lost all by himself…and in a really idiotic way. So…I tried to be nice to him.

Brick
Nice.

Maggie
Yes. He needed kindness, so I tried to be kind.

Brick
(drinking)
Well, that’s mighty nice.

Maggie
Brick, don’t be mean.

Brick
Me? I’m sweet, remember?

Maggie
It’s just…I think he took it the wrong way.

Brick
How’s that, Maggie?

52

Maggie
I think he thought I wanted to be…physical.

Brick
Why would he think that?

Maggie
Brick, honey, I don’t know. I guess I felt so sorry for him. And…well…he kissed me.

Brick
Skipper?

Maggie
He’d been drinking—we’d both been drinking. As I said, I felt so sorry for him.

Brick
Poor little Skipper.

Maggie
What did he say?

Brick
(flat)
He said you made love.

Maggie
We did not make love!

(She regroups, sighs.)

Skipper was so pitiful. I let him…but he couldn’t do it!

Brick
You let him…what?

Maggie
He couldn’t do it. In the end, I held him, and he cried. He cried like a baby.

Brick
Why didn’t you tell me about this?

Maggie
When I got to the hospital the next day, you were still so riled up. You were going to pull every muscle in your back again. So, I say, “Skipper tried to make love to me, and I let him.”? Was that going to do any good? Was that going to help anything? Nothing happened, so I let it go.

53

Brick
Yes, something happened. You destroyed a friendship.

Maggie
Me? Destroyed? I tried to help! What did Skipper say, dammit?

Brick
I gotta go clean out my desk at the office.

Maggie
Brick, tell me, what did Skipper say?

Brick
Some decisions need to be made.

Maggie
What decisions?

Brick
We can talk later.

Maggie
Later. It’s always later. When you said, earlier today, when you asked whether you had lost me.

Brick
Later, Maggie.

(He starts to exit, but she won’t let him.)

Maggie
You haven’t lost me. You’ve never lost me. You’ll never lose me.

(He exits.)

Brick, nothing happened.

(She is alone. A gut-clenching sense of change in a relationship causes a shuddering sob, stifled only by the back of her hand as the lights fade to black.)

 

Scene Four

Scene: It is several days later. The living room is empty. The noise of the front door is
heard, and Brick comes in, disheveled and still drunk.

 

54

Brick
(his voice starting soft, but coming to an explosion)
Maggie. Maggie. Maggie!

(Maggie runs in. He looks at her, and she rushes into his arms, and they hug, at first, Brick desperately needing her.)

Maggie
Oh, darling, sweetheart. Where have you been? I have been out of my mind with worry. You put me through three days of living hell. But now you’re back.

(She kisses his cheek.)

Let me draw you a bath. Let you soak. I’ll rub your shoulders the way you taught me.

(But now he pushes her away, not violently but forcefully enough to shock her a little.)

Brick, honey, what is it?

Brick
Skipper’s dead.

Maggie
Oh, no. What happened?

Brick
His mother called the office…they got me the message.

Maggie
How?

Brick
Skipper’s dead.

(She rushes back into his arms, and he cries. He’s needed her for this. It was where he had to come when he heard the news, but can he say it in any other way than his fierce grip? Then he relents. His inner turmoil is such that he needs Maggie with a desperate intensity, but he can’t let her know. He’s still so disappointed in her betrayal. It’s why he’s been gone for three days on this jag. Maggie senses some of this as he again puts her at arm’s length and then releases her as if she were an ephemeral bubble.)

Maggie
I’m so sorry, Brick.

(Pause.)
55

Maggie
Is there…when is…the funeral?

Brick
Tomorrow.

Maggie
Lord.

Brick
Back in Mississippi. Glorious Hill.

Maggie
We can make it if we leave tonight.

Brick
It’s my fault.

Maggie
Nonsense, Brick.

Brick
I…I hung up on him. Told him…to go to hell.

Maggie
Oh, honey.

(She starts to come to him, but this time he holds up a hand. He’s had his moment of vulnerability.)

Please don’t blame yourself.

Brick
I should have gone to him.

Maggie
You said he wouldn’t tell you where he was.

Brick
I should have found him. I…I could have…found him.

Maggie
You didn’t know this was going to happen.

Brick
Now I’ll never…There were things I wish I’d told him.

56

Maggie
Things we wished we’d said…

Brick
What’s that, Maggie?

Maggie
All the things we wish we’d said…wish we could say…It’s so very hard…until it’s too late. You can’t blame yourself. Let me get you cleaned up.

(She starts to move to him…hesitates…but he allows it. She wraps her arm around his waist, and they exit as the lights fade to black.)

 

Scene Five

Scene: It’s a month later. It has been an uneasy time. After the funeral, Brick seems to
have withdrawn and continues to drink all day, every day, until he passes out. They are living on savings and severance pay, but it’s running low. Brick sits on the couch, drink in hand. Maggie enters with a purpose. At first, she let him grieve. Then she avoided trying to have it out with him, but today, she’s come to a limit.

Maggie
Brick, honey?

(He just stares ahead. She repeats it more sharply.)

Brick!

Brick
(almost flinching, he turns)
What is it, Maggie?

Maggie
We need to talk.

Brick
I don’t want to—

Maggie
I got a letter from Big Mama this morning.

Brick
It was addressed to you?

 

57

Maggie
It was addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Brick Pollitt, so I opened it.

Brick
What did Big Mama have to say?

Maggie
She invited us to Big Daddy’s sixty-fifth birthday party.

Brick
That’s nice.

Maggie
That’s all you’re going to say? “That’s nice”?

Brick
Isn’t it nice?

Maggie
There’s more. Did you know Big Daddy hasn’t been feeling well of late?

Brick
He never talks about things like that. Last time we talked, he wished me luck with the job.

Maggie
Well, it must be a Pollitt thing: “not talking about things like that.” Big Mama says they’ve been to doctor after doctor. Done exploratory surgery.

(She has Brick’s attention, however subtly. He does love his father.)

She says the test results all seem positive, but there’s still a few more they want to hear about.

Brick
That’s—good.

Maggie
So they’re going to have a birthday celebration and they want us to come.

Brick
I just don’t feel like it, Maggie.

Maggie
It’s been four weeks, Brick. Four weeks since the funeral. Four weeks of you sitting here drinking until you pass out, waking up and doing it all over again.

58

Brick
So?

Maggie
So? So our small bit of savings is slowly running out. Soon we’ll be dead broke. How will you buy your liquor then?

Brick
You have a point.

Maggie
Your brother Gooper and his family will be there.

Brick
The whole tribe.

Maggie
Gooper and Mae and their whole trained little basketball team.

Brick
Good for them.

Maggie
I thought you might react this way, so I made a phone call.

Brick
You didn’t tell Big Mama—

Maggie
I called Doctor Baugh.

Brick
Daddy’s doctor? That’s a little nosey, isn’t it?

Maggie
I wanted to know the truth.

Brick
The truth.

Maggie
At first the old doctor was a bit cagey, but I used strategy.

Brick
What strategy?

 

59

Maggie
I said that I knew that he wanted to protect Big Mama, knowing how sensitive she is, but that Big Daddy’s son should know the truth…and finally, he gave in.

(Pause.)

Brick
And what did he say?

Maggie
He says it looks like cancer.

Brick
Cancer?

Maggie
There’s still a test result or two that haven’t come in, but he was pretty sure it was cancer, He hasn’t told Big Mama.

(Pause.)

But he did tell Gooper and Mae.

Brick
(almost to himself)
I thought nothing could touch Big Daddy.

Maggie
So. Will you go? To Big Daddy’s birthday?

(No answer.)

Brick, he could die. You said how you wished you could have had one more chance to talk to Skipper—

Brick
Be quiet!

Maggie
(determined)
This could be your last chance to talk with your father. Or are you just going to follow Skipper to the grave?

Brick
I said be quiet, Maggie. I swear…

(Pause.)
60

Brick
All right. I’ll go.

(She pulls in breath and releases it.)

I’ll go on certain conditions.

Maggie
What conditions?

Brick
First, we will not sleep in the same bed together.

Maggie
We have not done that since Skipper—

Brick
And second, you will not talk about Skipper—ever again.

Maggie
But, I told you nothing—

Brick
Those are my conditions. Otherwise, I’m staying right here. Do you agree?

Maggie
You probably won’t be able to stay here much longer. I’ve put the house up for sale.

Brick
When did you--?

Maggie
You’ve been oblivious to the world for a month. When we got back from Mississippi, I realized we couldn’t stay here…and we’re going to need the money if you keep this up.

(Brick thinks this over. He knows she’s been right, but he’s petulant.)

Brick
Do you agree to the conditions?

(She sighs, knowing his stubbornness, hoping for more time to break through.)

Maggie
All right. I agree.

Brick
I’ll start packing.
61

(He rises and exits.)

Maggie
I will not give up on you, Brick Pollitt. I will not give up.

(But then she slumps as if she’s given up, and the lights fade to black.)

Curtain.